How well do you understand the medications you are administering?

Registered Nurses and Managers of care facilities,  have very high expectations of caregivers. 

While there is no legal provision made for who may or may not administer medicines are the caregivers actually receiving sufficient information on how the medications they are giving, actually work? 

Do they understand what happens if the medications is not given in accordance with the manufacturers instructions?

Medications are chemicals.  Like all chemicals they are designed to work under certain conditions. If the conditions are not correct, then the efficacy of the chemical will be altered. 

So what are some basic actions for medication efficacy?

  1. Swallowed with a at least ½ glass of water – not a sip of tea or coffee or put in their food or crushed
  2. Put directly into the mouth on a spoon – not in the hands, or picked up with the fingers
  3. Given at specific time – on an empty stomach, with food, after food or morning, noon, afternoon or evening

Every time a medication is given outside of the manufacturers instructions, it reduces the efficacy of the medication.

Yet if we are honest a lot of medications are administered outside these “warranties” if you like.

Caregivers are trained in the 5 point pre-administration check before any medications are given.  This we do well.

So what else should any person administering medications know?

What happens to the medication in the body?  Not in fine detail but have some understanding how drugs are absorbed and distributed around the body.  This enhances the understanding of the importance of their role.

Is this done well?   No it isn’t.

We make it as safe as we can with the limited knowledge that is given to the caregivers.  On the whole I believe we do a good job but we could do a better job by enhancing their understanding.

Clinical Update (NZ) Ltd is very fortunate to have been able to contract the services of an expert in the field of medications in Gigi Lim, Senior Lecturer at University of Auckland.   Not only is she a Registered Nurse, she is also a Pharmacist.  She decided that she did not understand how the medications she was giving worked, so she did something about it.  Now with her clinical nursing knowledge and her Pharmacology knowledge, she can teach in a way nurses understand.

I have been working with her for the last 5 years helping Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Caregivers understand how medications work in the body.  I am fortunate to to be present at all her training. It is part of my business.  I have never left any session without taking away some new information. 

The bottom line here is we cannot expect caregivers to know everything but we can empower them with knowledge.  We can help them understand the importance of their role. Give them the tools to do their job.  Understanding Medication action is but one of them.  After all if they don’t understand what they are doing, the how and the why are superfluous.  Take the next step.  Give your caregivers the knowledge to do their job well.  You will reap the benefits of good care. 

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